All In With Day One and One Second Everyday

1 Second Everyday-1I’ve never really been into making New Year’s resolutions. Much like Valentine’s Day or other internationally-recognised special holidays, I figured if I was ever going to embark on a journey of self-improvement (or bestow gifts upon my loved ones or that special friend), I was going to do it for no particular reason, “just because”. Sure, Christmas and birthdays are always nice reminders, but special occasions don’t preclude being nice to people the rest of the time. New Year’s resolutions, I told myself, were for those that liked to make hilarious jokes about what resolution their computer monitor was (mine is 3840×2160, thanks for asking), or for those that needed the extra motivation of a new year to change an aspect of their lives.

That all changed last year, when I told myself I’d eat less fast food. Depending on who you ask, “fast food” can have a pretty broad definition, but giving up McDonalds and KFC seemed like a good baseline, and the beginning of 2014 seemed like a good a time as any to start. Over the past year, I can count the number of times I’ve eaten Maccas or KFC on one hand — hardly impressive, I know, but goals work better if they’re both realistic and achievable. Besides, I’m new to the whole “New Year’s resolution” thing, remember? Small steps.

dayone2I decided to do something a little different this year. I’ve always wanted to do a photo-a-day project or something along those lines, then I figured: why not combine my love-hate relationship with writing with an image? After mulling it over, I asked myself: why not start a journal, where my daily entries all have a photo and a few thoughts on the day? Why not take it a step further and add one second of video, too? Before long, I had settled it: I’d use Day One as my personal journalling app, and an app called 1 Second Everyday to capture a tiny snapshot of my day.

Day One is, hands down, the best app for doing any kind of personal journalling. It’s been out for aeons, and boasts an impressive feature set. It syncs to iCloud, lets you export entries as PDFs or to the web. You can add the current track that’s playing, see how many steps you did, or what the weather was like and where you were. There’s separate Mac and iOS apps, but I was mostly using the iPhone app to do my journalling.

It took me a little while to get used to the idea of writing a journal. I wasn’t even sure what to write, at first, and started out a fair few entries with “today I…”, omitting only the “dear diary” part for brevity. It felt foolish at times, writing about boring things in my boring life, but soon I began to pick out the things that stood out: going out for dinner with the family, doing something new for the first time, or even taking all my coins to a coin-counting machine and watching my shrapnel savings from the past year get deposited into my bank account.

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Every day, for the past 52 days, I’ve photographed the things that mattered, wrote down anything else worth mentioning, and gave the entries tags along the lines of “work”, “games”, or “food”. It’s nice, in a way, to have some kind of record of what I’ve been doing with my life1 besides my Twitter history or Foursquare checkins — while you can integrate those services with Day One automatically, having an “organic” journal will probably end up more meaningful for you, but I guess it depends on why you’re keeping a journal in the first place.

I wrote about the time I made a sandwich/toast hybrid and left it too long under the grill, which led to my sister asking why something smelled burned. I wrote about the time my Lonely Planet guides arrived for an upcoming overseas trip, and I wrote about the time I was rejected for a job I wasn’t sure I really wanted (that entry was a little longer than normal). Mostly mundane things, to be sure, but I’m the kind of guy who would be disappointed if I looked back, at the end of the year, and wondered where it all went. This way, at least I’ll know what I got up to — while I won’t know exactly how many hours I’ve wasted playing Dota 2, I’ll have a pretty good idea thanks to the journal entries tagged “games”.

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As for the video part, that’s a little simpler to explain: one second of video, every day. It’s pretty easy, compared to writing a journal. I’m using an app called 1 Second Everyday which lets you choose a video clip from your library. The app automatically detects the dates videos were taken, and once you’ve selected a video clip, lets you trim it down to just one second. Like Day One, I don’t even have to adhere to a strict “once daily” regimen, because as long as I’ve taken a photo and video for the day, I can go back and add entries at a later date. Some would call that cheating, but I call it efficiency.

Speaking of cheating, I’ve actually been using the excellent Hyperlapse app to record most of my videos. Sometimes I cheat by speeding multiple seconds of footage up, compressing it so that it fits into a second, but most of the time I just use it because it has truly incredible video stabilisation. Seriously, Hyperlapse is great for things other than stabilised time-lapse footage.

The cool thing about all this is how I can use apps to make all this possible. Normally I’d have issues trusting apps with all of my information like that (just ask anyone who’s used one of the many online photo storage services that have subsequently shut down), but both Day One and 1 Second Everyday seem reputable enough and have enough export options that I’m not too afraid I’m just contributing words into a black hole.

If this all means I’m one of those people that makes New Year’s resolutions now, then I’m OK with that. For the moment, though, I’m all in with Day One and 1 Second Everyday.

Benny Ling enjoys scowling into his iPhone on public transport. His fingers flying over the glass display of his iPhone 6, he’s either doing one of two things: typing out a strongly-worded email to an unfavourable reply, or blogging about his terribly boring life in Day One. All I know is, he writes the morning news, right here at AppleTalk, and will be away for two weeks starting next week. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. While that sounds incredibly narcissistic, I assure you, my reasons for writing a journal are purely sentimental. 

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  1. Nice one Benny!
    I feel inspired to do something similar. I have a sense of time just passing at a rapid rate and it would be good to have a timeline that you can read about just what it was you did last week, last month, last year.

  2. tcn33 says:

    I use Day One as a series of letters to my girls - one day we'll be able to look back and see the day to day things that happened.

  3. I've tried so many times to get cracking with Day One but I keep failing. Good on you for making a habit of it!

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